The competitiveness of today’s education or work environments can lead to the development of unhealthy feelings in today’s youth, who may begin to measure their worth with their ability to get sizable amounts of work done or remaining busy, says an expert.
“It was about two weeks ago when I overheard two people discussing their schedules, while it seemed like a friendly rant, it was much more than that. It was almost as if the two friends were competing based on who is busier, who has slept less, who had to experience more discomfort to feel productive. This is what toxic productivity looks like. It is essentially an innate desire to perform and deliver in all areas of your life, if your actions are not aimed toward self-growth, you feel low, devalued and even guilty,” notes renowned clinical psychologist Dr. Prerna Kohli (M.Phil., Ph.D.), who is the Founder MindTribe.in.
A contributor in the area of mental health for over 27 years, Dr. Kohli works towards helping people to sustain relationships and making their lives more productive, happier, and abounding with inner peace.
She says, “Throughout life, millennials have been told repeatedly to get their grades up, be involved in extracurricular activities, they are expected to know multiple dialects, play various instruments and much more. We have put pressure on an entire generation to deliver performance in all spheres of their lives. We have literally driven them to find their self-worth in their productivity. Hence, without work, they are likely to feel worthless.”
While this is beneficial to your organisations as they can “get more work done from you in a limited amount of time” and the influencers on your Instagram, Snapchat or other social media forums might be promoting this ‘grind’ or ‘hustling’ attitude, it is not good for your mental, physical or even emotional well- being.
Some psychologists and researchers agree that this hustle culture can be more damaging than workaholism. Therefore, we must recognize the signs of toxic productivity and nip it in the bud.
One of these signs is feeling like a failure or feeling guilty when you are not working, which impacts your social life. You feel that catching up with friends is a waste of time and think of the other activities that you would rather engage in. More signs include: Inability to enjoy any task or find menial tasks meaningful as they are not rewarded culturally; Finding comfort in stressors; And inability to stop the cycle or finding it addictive.
If you identified with these signs, it is time you stop working yourself towards a burnout. Take out time for introspection and prioritize your mental health over your work. Here are some tips from Dr Kohli that you can follow:
Schedule relaxation: Take out time every day to relax, this can include listening to music, writing in a journal, watching a movie, painting, talking to your friends or simply doing nothing.
Engage in breathwork: There is no better activity than mindfulness breathing, it helps calm your nervous system and keeps your mood regulated while making you feel relaxed throughout. With enough practice, you will be able to reduce your anxiety multifold.
Evaluate your attitude: Ask yourself the importance of work in your life. Is it the only thing in your life? Or is it a part of your life? Once you evaluate and understand the importance of working, you can learn to set healthy boundaries between your work and leisure time.
Maintain a self-esteem journal: Maintain a special journal and make notes of things that help increase your feelings of confidence other than your work.
It can be very easy to fall prey to a toxic productivity cycle but taking the necessary steps can prevent burnout and improve your mental well-being immensely.